Gambia Expects Two New Ferries in 16 Months

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Gambia Expects Two New Ferries in 16 Months
Gambia Expects Two New Ferries in 16 Months

Africa-Press – Gambia. The Managing Director of the Gambia Ports Authority (GPA), Mr. Ousman Jobarteh, has announced that The Gambia is expecting two new ferries in 16 months.

The GPA, Government of The Gambia, and the Netherlands-based DAMEN Shipyard on Wednesday signed the contract for the delivery of the two new ferries after months of negotiation.

The signing ceremony, which took place at the BCC Hall, was attended by Cabinet ministers, local authorities, NAMs, GPA officials, a representative of DAMEN Shipyard among others.

“This ceremony is for the signing of two new ferries. The decision came about because of our engagement with development partners; African Development Bank, which has provided grant funding to procure one new, solar-powered, green ferry. When the decision was sent to the Government, the Cabinet in its wisdom, gave instructions and the Ministry of Transport informed the GPA that it’s government’s decision to go for two instead of one. That’s why we are signing for two ferries,” explained Mr. Jobarteh. He continued: “One is completely on a grant by the African Development Bank and the second is being procured by the government through a supply-credit arrangement with DAMEN Shipyard of the Netherlands. Coincidentally, DAMEN Shipyard are the manufacturers of, practically, all of the ferries and the craft we have in the GPA. And the procurement process went through international tender and they happened to be the only and the most responsive bidder. That’s why they are here today to witness this signing with us.”

According to the GPA boss, the two ferries are expected to be delivered in 16 months.

“In terms of delivery, we expect the ferries to be delivered after 16 months when we sign this contract and the payments are received and quay-laying is done,” he announced.

Mr. Jobarteh further explained that the ferries would be tailor-made to customers’ demands and needs.

“By the way, these two new ferries are going to be Kunta Kinteh-type in terms of their capacity and what we have learned is customers have been complaining usually about accommodation. So, things like toilet facilities, their positioning on the deck, and other features would be an improvement in these two new ferries,” he stated.

According to him, the new ferries would be also environmentally friendly.

“And that they will not only rely on diesel power but they will use clean energy in terms of sustaining the environment,” revealed Mr. Jobarteh.

He said the GPA saw the need to invite private partners for sustainable ferry services.

“After all these investments are done, which are huge, capital intensive, we also opened up to the private sector and invited them for the sustainable operation and management of ferries so that we would be guaranteed quality service and value for money,” he disclosed. “So, this is our intention and game plan and we believe that if we implement these strategies… Think about the ferry crossing not only in Banjul and Baaraor linking the capital and North Bank but this is a major crossing point for the trans-West Africa Route. We call it Highway 7. It links from Nouadhibou to Angola. So that’s how important this ferry crossing point is,” he added.

In her welcoming remarks, the Mayor of Banjul, Rohey Malick Lowe, said the breakdown in ferry services mostly affects the lower strata of the society such as the communities and the man in the street.

“We are thrilled to welcome you here and we would like to thank the government of The Gambia. Thank you government for assuming your responsibility in responding to the needs of the governed. We were really looking forward to this development,” she acknowledged.

For his part, the Chief of Staff at the Office of the President, Mod K. Ceesay, said President Adama Barrow has reached out to all Gambians on Tuesday to apologize for the disruption in ferry services.

“Left to him alone[President Barrow], what happened now[disruption of ferry services] would not have happened,” he postulated.

According to the chief of staff, the ultimate objective of the government is to deliver the Banjul-Barra bridge so that “we can walk on it and I’m certain that we will see the outcome”. “In the medium term, we want to ensure that we have a functional route between Banjul and Barra,” he pointed out.

Chief Alagie Jagne of Baddibou urged Gambians to exercise patience as the government works towards the procurement of two new ferries and the rehabilitation of the Kunta Kinteh and Kanilai ferries.

Also speaking at the ceremony, the Minister of Information, Dr. Ismaila Ceesay, said the Government of President Adama Barrow would go at full stretch to respond to the development needs of the masses.

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